Just like some people, some dogs suffer from sensitive stomachs. Although this is rarely a life-or-death issue, these poor pooches often struggle to digest their dog food well and experience a variety of troubling gastrointestinal symptoms.
It is important to have such dogs examined by a veterinarian to ensure they are suffering from a sensitive stomach and not some other ailment.
Several serious health problems can cause similar symptoms, so you need to rule these out. But, dogs with sensitive stomachs may benefit from several dog foods designed to help them feel better.
Read below for more details on the best dog foods for dogs with sensitive stomachs, or check out our quick picks below:
Why Do Dogs Suffer from Sensitive Stomachs?
A variety of things can cause your dog to suffer from a sensitive stomach, and you’ll need to perform a little bit of detective work to determine the things that cause her the most trouble. You should learn as much as you can about the things that commonly upset dogs’ stomachs, but you’ll also have to engage in a little trial-and-error.
However, it is important to realize that it may be impossible to definitively determine the root cause of your dog’s digestive difficulties. In such cases, you’ll simply need to do your best to find a dog food your dog can digest easily.
Four of the most common reasons for a dog’s stomach sensitivity include:
1. Your dog is unable to digest some of the proteins or fat in his dog food.
Dogs with sensitive stomachs may be unable to digest some protein sources or large quantities of fat, so stick to easily digested proteins – chicken and lamb are two good choices – and avoid high-fat dog foods and table scraps.
If your dog’s digestion issues are a result of your pooch eating some unusual (which isn’t fed to him regularly), his upset stomach can be quelled with a serving of rice or other simple foods.
2. Your dog is allergic to some of the proteins in his dog food
Food allergies usually cause skin- or ear-related symptoms, but they can also cause digestive upset.
Food allergies are usually treated with an elimination-challenge diet, which involves removing all common allergens from your dog’s diet until the problem is resolved and then testing her reaction when they are reintroduced individually.
3. Your dog is unable to digest the ingredients in his treats
Just like their food, dog treats can contain ingredients that upset the function of your pup’s digestive system.
Additionally, offering your dog too many treats can overwhelm her body. Avoid treats while trying to solve your dog’s sensitive stomach issues. Once you’re ready to reintroduce treats, try opting for hypoallergenic dog treats.
4. Your dog is suffering from emotional distress
Stress and anxiety (both acute and chronic) can also cause your dog’s digestive system to struggle. It may help to keep a record of your dog’s experiences, meals, and eliminations to help pin down the causal factor. It may also help to provide your dog with a cozy den of her own in which she can retreat after meals.
Best Foods for Dogs with Sensitive Stomachs
It can be difficult to calm down your dog’s sensitive stomach, and you may have to try a few different foods before you hit upon the perfect recipe for your pup.
However, the following dog foods are well-suited for dogs with sensitive stomachs and are high-rated by other owners who have already offered them to their dogs.
1. Ollie Dog Food
About: Ollie is a high-quality, human-grade dog food company dishing out meals that look good enough for owners to eat too! The real value of Ollie is that they’ll actually customize your pup’s food based on your dog’s activity level, age, and any known food allergies, so it’s one of the best dog foods for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
There are no corn, soy, wheat, preservatives, or artificial ingredients of any kind in these quality canine eats, making them a great sensitive stomach dog food choice to aid in healthy digestion!
- Fresh, highest-quality dog food with no preservatives, artificial ingredients, corn, soy, or wheat.
- Meats are sourced from US and Australia.
- Fresh fruits & veggies are also included.
- Small batch cooking, with minimal processing and low-temperature heat to preserve nutrients.
- If your dog doesn’t like it, get your money back!
Options: Available in Turkey, Chicken, Lamb, and Beef recipes.
- It doesn’t get much higher in quality than human-grade ingredients
- Money-back guarantee offers peace of mind if your pooch isn’t a fan or suffers from tummy woes
- Customized to your dog’s needs
- On the expensive side
- Requires room in your refrigerator
Turkey, kale, lentils, carrots, turkey liver,...,
oats, blueberries, pumpkin, tricalcium phosphate, chia seeds, sunflower oil, salt, salmon oil, zinc gluconate, ferrous sulfate, copper amino acid chelate, vitamin e supplement, manganese amino acid chelate, choline bitartrate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin (vitamin b2), Vitamin d3, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin b6), potassium iodide.
2. Sundays for Dogs
About: Sundays for Dogs is a unique air-dried kibble that boasts a number of features for easier digestion, making it one of the best dog foods for dogs with sensitive stomachs. Formulas are designed by a team of world-leading animal nutritionists, PhDs, food scientists, and boarded veterinarian nutritionists.
Sundays for Dogs features nutrient-rich ingredients like real meats, fruits, and veggies, and the entire food is air-dried rather than cooked. The sensitive tummy kibble also contains added prebiotics, and healthy digestive aids like pumpkin and ginger, along with plenty of fiber and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
This sensitive stomach dog food prides itself on including no artificial flavors or preservatives, no chemicals, and no ingredients from China, plus no gluten, legumes, potatoes, wheat, or soy.
- Focus on natural foods with no artificial or synthetic ingredients
- Gut-boosting mix of prebiotics, digestion-friendly ingredients, and antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies
- Whole meats and organ meats top the ingredient list
- Lightly dehydrated through air-drying
- Features a healthy grain-inclusive dog food diet with quinoa
Options: Available in a single beef recipe.
- Owners rave about the brand’s focus on natural, whole foods lacking chemical additives of other kibbles
- Easy-to-read, simple ingredient list
- Contains great extras like organ meat and prebiotics
- Isn’t as cheap as some other options (though it’s certainly more affordable than fresh dog food)
- More protein options would be ideal
USDA Beef, Beef Heart, Beef Liver, Beef Bone, Quinoa,...,
Pumpkin, Wild Salmon Oil, Sunflower Oil, Zucchini, Kale, Flaxseed, Sea Salt, Parsley, Kelp, Chicory Root, Turmeric, Mixed Tocopherols, Ginger, Selenium Yeast, Blueberries, Carrots, Apples, Tomatoes, Shiitake Mushrooms, Broccoli, Oranges, Cranberries, Spinach, Beets, Tart Cherries, Strawberries.
3. Raised Right Turkey & Pumpkin Paté
About: Raised Right Turkey & Pumpkin Paté is a digestion-friendly recipe made without synthetic vitamins — a perk many natural-focused pet parents adore. This fresh food option also has a taste and texture most dogs like, pleasing even the pickiest of pooches.
- Real meat is always the primary ingredient
- Pumpkin offers a natural source of fiber for healthier digestion
- Healthy fats support skin and coat health
- Made in the USA
Options: Available in 11 recipes, including Turkey & Pumpkin Paté, Original Pork, and Original Beef.
- Fiber-rich pumpkin helps aid in healthy digestion
- Excellent mix of protein options to choose from
- Taste is a hit with most four-legged friends
- Food is on the expensive side
- Requires refrigeration
Turkey Thigh, Pumpkin, Turkey Heart, Turkey Liver, Organic Spearmint,...,
Cod Liver Oil, Egg Shell Powder, Flaxseed Oil, Organic Dried Kelp
4. Natural Balanced LID Beef
About: Natural Balance LID Beef is a premium-ingredient dog food that is made without many of the problematic ingredients found in other dog foods. It’s composed of 32% protein featuring beef as the first ingredient (with a beef meal also included shortly after). With no grains, chicken ingredients, or even potatoes, it’s a great choice for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
- Contains no soy, corn, chicken, or wheat; instead, the carbohydrate content primarily comes from peas and chickpeas.
- No artificial flavors or colors included.
- Beef is the single animal protein, making it great for dogs who don’t digest chicken or other animal proteins easily. Includes 52% beef ingredients.
- Short ingredient list means fewer ingredients likely to upset your dog’s stomach.
Options: Available in 22 recipes and formulas, including Grain-Free Beef, Salmon & Sweet Potato, and Chicken & Brown Rice.
- LID nature ideal for dogs with several food allergies or intolerances to watch for
- Single-protein natural suits pups with sensitive tummies
- Contains an impressive 52% beef ingredients
- It’d be better if the beef meal was the second ingredient versus pea protein
- Picky dogs may not be big fans at first
Beef, Pea Protein, Beef Meal, Chickpeas, Peas...,
Canola Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Pea Starch, Natural Flavor, Pea Fiber, Flaxseed, Salt, Potassium Chloride, DL-Methionine, Menhaden Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Choline Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract.
5. Nulo Freestyle Limited+ Turkey Grain-Free
About: Nulo Freestyle Limited+ Turkey is a GMO-free, grain-free diet catered specifically for dogs with digestion issues. Featuring a single-animal protein source (turkey) and no eggs, corn, wheat, or soy, it’s a great sensitive stomach dog food choice for owners who want to avoid common canine allergens.
- Turkey as a single animal protein source – fewer animal protein sources mean fewer chances that something will upset your pup’s tummy (this also makes it a great option for food allergy elimination diets).
- 30% crude protein, plus essential nutrients for a diet suitable for both pups and adults.
- Contains GanebenBC30 (a unique probiotic strain) that aids in gut health.
- Low carb, with chickpeas and sweet potatoes but no potatoes or tapioca.
- No chicken, eggs, peas, pea protein, corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors, or preservatives.
- Made in the USA.
Options: Available in 5 recipes, including Turkey Grain-Free, Salmon Grain-Free, and Alaska Pollock & Lentils.
- Two single-animal protein sources are the top ingredients
- Grain-free recipe suits dogs with grain allergies
- Rich in fiber for healthy digestion
- Not a ton of reviews
- Peas aren’t popular ingredients with every pet owner
Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes, Canola Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid)...,
Lima Beans, Miscanthus Grass, Natural Flavor, Monosodium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Dried Chicory Root, Salmon Oil, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Methionine, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Manganese Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Manganous Oxide, Biotin, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate, Rosemary Extract.
6. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited-Ingredient Dog Food
About: Blue Buffalo Basics Limited-Ingredient Salmon and Potato Dog Food is formulated to provide your pup with a balanced and nutritious diet without including any unnecessary ingredients. This helps to alleviate many of the problems associated with food sensitivities or food allergies.
- Contains oatmeal, potatoes, and brown rice, which are easily digested by dogs with sensitive stomachs.
- Deboned salmon is featured as a single animal protein source.
- Contains pumpkin to aid with healthy digestion.
- Includes omega 3 & 6 fatty acids to improve coat and skin.
- No chicken or beef, corn, wheat, soy, dairy, or eggs. Also no artificial flavors or preservatives.
- Made in the USA
- Many owners report an end to tummy woes after switching to the food
- Fiber-rich potatoes and pumpkin help firm up stools
- Made with high-quality ingredients
- A select few owners noted that the food did not entirely alleviate canine digestive upset
- Some dogs refuse to eat LifeSource Bits
Deboned Salmon, Oatmeal, Brown Rice, Salmon Meal (source of Glucosamine), Peas...,
Potatoes, Pea Fiber, Canola Oil (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Natural Flavor, Pea Protein, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Fish Oil (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Potassium Chloride, Pumpkin, Dried Chicory Root, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Flaxseed Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Salt, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, DL-Methionine, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Vegetable Juice for color, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Copper Sulfate, Biotin (Vitamin B7), L-Lysine, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Dried Yeast, Manganese Sulfate, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Taurine, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Iodate, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.
7. Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dry Dog Food
About: Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dry Dog Food is formulated for easy digestion and complete, balanced nutrition. It contains a number of high-value additives, which will help ensure your pet’s stomach handles it without a problem.
- Fortified with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to help promote healthy digestive function.
- Contains antioxidants that provide clinically proven health benefits.
- Includes several vegetables and fruits to improve flavor and provide balanced nutrition.
- 100% satisfaction guarantee – you can receive a full refund if you are not happy with the product.
Options: Available in a single recipe.
- Most owners found the food alleviated sensitive stomach symptoms
- The majority of dogs seem to enjoy the taste
- Several pet parents report an improvement in skin issues, too, after switching to the food
- Top ingredient isn’t an animal protein source
- Contains some controversial ingredients like pea protein and soybean oil
Brewers Rice, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Sorghum, Cracked Pearled Barley, Pea Protein...,
Pork Fat, Soybean Oil, Chicken Liver Flavor, Dried Beet Pulp, Lactic Acid, Potassium Chloride, Iodized Salt, Flaxseed, L-Lysine, Choline Chloride, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, Oat Fiber, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavors, Beta-Carotene, Apples, Broccoli, Carrots, Cranberries, Green Peas.
8. Nutro Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Lamb & Sweet Potato
About: Nutro Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Lamb & Sweet Potato is a limited-ingredient diet designed to be easy on your pup’s digestive tract and minimize potential food sensitivities. Additionally, this bland dry dog food’s primary ingredients — lamb and sweet potato – are typically very easy for dogs to digest.
It also comes in a small and large breed variations, so you can choose based on your pooch’s size and unique needs.
- Deboned lamb and lamb meal are the first two ingredients, with lamb as the single-source animal protein.
- Made in the USA with non-GMO ingredients
- Doesn’t contain artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, corn, soy, gluten, or grains
- Includes potatoes, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and lentils as digestible proteins
Options: Available in 8 recipes, including Grain-Free Lamb, Grain-Free Salmon, and Grain-Free Venison Meal.
- Limited ingredient list ideal for dogs with multiple food intolerances
- Most owners report dogs seem to digest the food well
- One of the few non-GMO dog foods available
- Pricing is steep
- Pickier pups may refuse to give the food a try
Deboned Lamb, Lamb Meal, Chickpeas, Dried Potatoes, Dried Sweet Potato...,
Lentils, Potato Starch, Canola Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Sunflower Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Potato Protein, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Mixed Tocopherols And Citric Acid (preservatives), Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Niacin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Selenium Yeast, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.
9. Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula
About: Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach Formula is a nutritionally balanced and easily digested dog food that is made with real salmon, rice, and other ingredients that are unlikely to upset your dog’s stomach. It’s also a great budget option, as this dry dog food costs a fair bit less than some of the other stomach-friendly dog foods on this list.
- Salmon is featured as the number one ingredient.
- Contains no corn, wheat, or soy to help ensure digestibility.
- Made without any artificial dyes or flavors to avoid unnecessarily stressing your dog’s sensitive stomach or irritating sensitive skin.
- Formulated to contain antioxidants, which will help to ensure proper immune function.
Options: Offered in 7 recipes and formulas, including Salmon & Rice, Turkey & Oat Meal, and Large Breed.
- One of the most affordable dry foods for dogs with tummy trouble
- Most dogs are big fans of the food
- Several owners report this dog food helped ease sensitive skin irritation and stomach problems pups previously suffered from
- Contains some subpar ingredient
- Fishy smell is off-putting to some dogs and people
Salmon, Barley, Ground Rice, Canola Meal, Oat Meal...,
Fish Meal (Source of Glucosamine), Animal Fat Preserved with Mixed-Tocopherols, Brewers Dried Yeast, Salmon Meal (Source of Glucosamine), Natural Flavor, Sunflower Oil, Chicory Root Inulin, Salt, Fish Oil, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1)
Symptoms of a Sensitive Stomach
Dogs with sensitive stomachs typically exhibit a relatively similar set of symptoms. However, some dogs experience some symptoms more often than others, as each dog is an individual. Nevertheless, your dog may have a sensitive stomach if she displays any of the following symptoms:
- Vomiting – While the occasional bout of vomiting is normal (dogs have an “eat first, barf later” mantra), repeated bouts of vomiting likely indicate that your dog either has a sensitive stomach or a serious health issue.
- Diarrhea – Loose or runny stools are another symptom that occasionally plague all dogs, but repeated occurrences indicate the presence of a sensitive stomach or a more serious problem.
- Gas – If your dog engages in chemical warfare on a regular basis, she is likely suffering from a sensitive stomach (and let’s be honest, you both suffer from this symptom). Gas-x may help treat symptoms, but ideally, you’ll want to resolve your dog’s tummy issues at the source.
Switching Dog Food for a Sensitive Pup
It’s always wise to transition your dog from one dog food to another in a slow, gradual manner, but it is especially important to do so for dogs that do not digest well. Abruptly changing such a dog’s food is just begging for additional problems, so make sure to take it slow.
Most veterinarians recommend starting by giving your dog a bowl of food containing about 80% to 90% of their old food and 10% to 20% of their new dog food. Increase the percentage of new dog food to about 30% to 40% on the next day while reducing the quantity of the old dog food to about 60% to 70%.
Continue in this same manner until you are providing your dog with 100% of the new food – the whole process should take about 5 to 7 days.
Not all dogs will a sensitive stomach will suffer gastrointestinal upset from a new dog food, and it may even start to produce positive results very quickly. In such cases, it may make sense to accelerate the pace of the switch. You’ll just have to use your best judgment.
Characteristics of Good Dog Foods for Dogs with Sensitive Stomachs
Because dogs can suffer from a sensitive stomach for a variety of reasons, and different ingredients affect some dogs differently than others, it can be difficult to make many generalizations with regard to good foods for dogs that don’t digest food well.
However, there are a few things that tend to characterize most sensitive stomach dog foods that are easily digested, including:
- The absence of grains (or easily-digestible grains) — Some dogs are able to digest corn, wheat, and other grains without issue, but dogs with sensitive stomachs may not be able to do so. Many owners have been choosing to opt for grain-free diets for this reason. However, new research has revealed that grain-free substitutions could have something to do with the increased number of DCM cases in dogs. While grain-free dog food may not be the best course considering this new evidence (we suggest talking it over with your vet if you’re concerned about your dog’s risk for DCM), at the very least, opt for easily-digestible whole grains that are good for dogs, such as brown rice, millet, and oats.
- A limited number of ingredients – The more ingredients in
a dog food, the higher the chances are that one of them will upset your dog’s digestive system, whether due to a food allergy or general intolerance. Accordingly, while your dog still needs to consume a variety of ingredients to obtain a nutritionally balanced diet, it is wise to limit the overall number and avoid unnecessary additives. Formulas marked limited-ingredient formulas or hypoallergenic dog foods are ideal, as they often used limited ingredients.
- Comprised of dog foods that are easily digested – There are always exceptions, but most dogs digest chicken, lamb, brown rice, and potatoes relatively well, so these are often good ingredients to look for in
a new dog food.
- Contain ingredients and supplements that aid the digestive process – Some dog foods include dog-friendly probiotics or yogurt, which help keep your dog’s stomach churning properly. Others contain substances like pumpkin or high-fiber ingredients to help firm up your dog’s stools.
- Bland composition. While many owners may seek out unique protein sources and a mix of several veggies and fruits for their dog’s kibble, the best gastrointestinal dog food tend to be quite bland compared to most formulas. Basic meats and rice are the most common ingredients in food designed for dogs with upset stomachs.
No matter which dog food you decide upon for your sensitive dog, be sure to make the switch gradually. With a little patience, some experimentation, and lots of love, you’ll surely figure out the best way to keep your dog’s stomach full.
Does your dog have a sensitive stomach? What do you do to help ease his troubles? Have you found a great dog food that he manages to keep down and digest well? Was it one of our picks for the best dog foods for dogs with sensitive stomachs? Tell us all about it in the comments below!